You might think I'm being harsh about a person who has been thrown into the political spotlight without even being a politician himself. I understand that Mathieson's role would be a difficult one, but nevertheless I wish he had paid more heed to the damage that the ideas about gender that he supports can and does do in Australian society. The CEO of Menslink Martin Fisk recently addressed a reception at the Lodge hosted by Prime Minister Gillard and Tim Mathieson. A post including a transcript of Mr Fisk's speech was posted at the Menslink website a couple of days ago: http://menslink.org.au/menslink-ceo-addresses-pms-xi-pre-match-reception-at-the-lodge/
Setting aside my concerns about the manipulative use of statistics in claims about mental health issues in this speech (a trick that the Australian public has been duped with many times by Australian celebrity psychiatrists), I wish to take issue with the gender-related assumptions that this speech appears to be based upon. The idea that the genders have important psychological differences has internationally grown in popularity to a striking degree in recent decades, an idea that has been supported by and publicly promoted by some psychology researchers and criticised by others. A prominent supporter of these ideas is the autism researcher Prof Simon Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge. I have written many posts in which I have raised questions about Baron-Cohen's research and popular books. The now-popular idea that there are profound psychological differences between the human genders is an element supporting the popular belief that children need parental role models of both genders (or a good non-parental substitute), especially a parental role model of their own gender. It is very clear that this belief is an underlying assumption of the speech recently given by the CEO of Menslink. This popular belief inevitably leads to beliefs that sole parent mothers are insufficient to parent sons and vice-versa, that single parents are insufficient as parents, that same-sex parents are jointly insufficient as parents, and that children from such families are in some way psychologically undeveloped or damaged, especially ones who were raised without a parent of their own gender. A great many individuals and families are condemned by this inter-connected set of beliefs about psychology and gender, which are to my knowledge not supported by scientific evidence. There is rarely any acknowledgement that single-parent families are often living in poverty, and this stressful economic situation is rarely cited as a possible cause of social problems that are thought to be common to this type of family. This is all stupidity of the most insidious kind, with the potential to do much harm in Australian society, and to distract the public and decision-makers from the major social issues in Australian society, such as economic inequality, racism, unemployment, sexism and a large and growing the gender pay gap. Has Mr Mathieson spared a moment's thought about these issues?